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"Sky's the limit at residential California airport"
- From: "Stephen Irwin, M.S., A.A.E., I.A.P." <stepheni@xxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Tue, 29 May 2012 19:10:00 -0700
- Organization: www.californiaaviation.org/irwin.html
Tuesday, May 29, 2012
Sky's the limit at residential airport
By Michelle Macaluso
FRESNO, Calif.-When Tim Cone was eight-years-old he saw a neighborhood where
people had airplanes in their garages instead of cars.
"I thought that's the coolest thing in the world," says Cone.
For the last seven years, Cone has been living out his dream in that very
same place in a residential skypark.
Nestled among the rolling farmlands in the Central Valley of California lies
the world's first aviation community called Sierra Sky Park. It was
established in 1946 for aviators returning home from World War II so they
could have a place close by to fly their planes.
"The dream was to build a community where these people would find a home to
live with their airplanes," says Cone.
There are over 100 lots at the skypark, and almost the entire neighborhood
has airplanes sitting in their garages that double as hangars.
"I like to fly airplanes . I walk out the door and I'm in the air," says
resident Phil Moradian.
Today there are over 600 residential skyparks in the United States and most
are modeled after the original.
"Everybody out at the Sky Park shares the love of aviation. It's a real
binder to the community. A lot of neighborhoods don't have that common
purpose, the common hobby. It brings us together," says Cone.
Cone is a professional pilot and most of the time he decides to skip out on
morning traffic and fly to work.
"Seventy minutes in the car or twelve minutes in an airplane I opt for the
airplane," he says.
"It's just a neat place, if you love aviation you love Skypark. We have
something in common and we love airplanes," says resident Jim Coehlo.
Some skyparks are home to big name celebrities like John Travolta and his
luxury Boeing 707 that he keeps at home in Florida.
Most of the planes at Sierra Sky Park are prop planes that were built from
scratch by their owner and cost anywhere from $20,000-$250,000. Residents
say you don't have to be extremely wealthy to belong to the community,
"It's about the same if you belong to a country club playing golf," says Jim
Sierra Sky Park operates as a privately-owned public use airport, where all
the funding comes from resident's donations. The Sky Park does not accept
federal, state, or local government money.
"It's never been a nickel of taxpayers money at the Sky Park and the actual
labor to maintain it has been provided by the residents," says Cone.
Sierra Sky Park looks like most neighborhoods, but with a few noticeable
exceptions. The streets are 100 feet wide that allow both cars and planes to
use them, and the street signs are just about three feet off the ground so
the plane's wings can glide right over them.
"Most skyparks that are new these days are split use where it's planes are
on one side and the cars on the other," says Cone.
Cone is grateful for a home where he finally gets to live with his plane.
"It's a little jewel and a wonderful airport that has been here since 1946,"
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